The American Civil Liberties Union's Ray Lane made two major mistakes in his Jan. 9 Close to Home letter. First, he attempted to rewrite American history, as do many who oppose school choice based on the separation of church and state. Opponents of school choice disregard evidence of the positive influences of religion in America's history and culture and the fact that there are 98 Supreme Court decisions prior to 1900 affirming the right to religious expression in public and school life.

We have now had almost 40 years without prayer or much "influence" of religion in public schools. Are we impressed by the results? I certainly am not.

Second, Mr. Lane does not understand the basis of church and state separation. It was written to protect the church from the state's ability to coerce, punish, imprison or otherwise control someone of a different faith. If Mr. Lane can't understand what I am saying, he needs to look at Sudan and Afghanistan.

Mr. Lane and many others want to convince the American people that any religious values or prayers in public life are unacceptable based on the separation of church and state, and only the ignorant and uninformed desire them. I do not want to be stripped of my cultural heritage and have a revised version of history substituted for it.

CAROL DeHAVEN

La Plata

Danny Heenan missed the mark in his Jan. 3 letter about government funding of religious practices. He stated that taxpayers "paying for kids to pray" is less dangerous than paying for wars, executions, international family planning or abortion services.

The difference is that the First Amendment states that government may not promote or impede religion in any way. The U.S. Constitution does not take a similar stand on the other matters.

GARY JACOBSEN

Woodbridge